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© 2001 Springer-Verlag
Understanding the Complexity of Economic, Ecological, and Social Systems
C. S. Holling
Department of Zoology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611, USA
Hierarchies and adaptive cycles comprise the basis of ecosystems and social-ecological systems across scales. Together they form a panarchy. The panarchy describes how a healthy system can invent and experiment, beneﬁting from inventions that create opportunity while being kept safe from those that destabilize because of their nature or excessive exuberance. Each level is allowed to operate at its own pace, protected from above by slower, larger levels but invigorated from below by faster, smaller cycles of innovation. The whole panarchy is therefore both creative and conserving. The interactions between cycles in a panarchy combine learning with continuity. An analysis of this process helps to clarify the meaning of “sustainable development.” Sustainability is the capacity to create, test, and maintain adaptive capability. Development is the process of creating, testing, and maintaining opportunity. The phrase that combines the two, “sustainable development,” thus refers to the goal of fostering adaptive capabilities and creating opportunities. It is therefore not an oxymoron but a term that describes a logical partnership. Key words: hierarchy; adaptive cycles; multiple scales; resilience; sustainability.
The ecological status of nations and regions is a current item for assessment and action on the agenda of several organizations. In the United States, the National Academy of Sciences and the Heinz Center have issued guidelines to identify sustainability indicators. Internationally, the Species Survival Commission of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) has stated that sustainability, either in a region or of a species, depends on interactions among internal and external factors. The internal factors may be social, political, ecological, or economic; the external factors include foreign debt, structural poverty, global environmental problems,
This paper has been adapted from Gunderson and Holling (2001), with permission of Island Press.
Received 7 March 2001; accepted 16 March 2001. *e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.orgﬂ.edu
and social/political/economic conﬂicts. Indicators of sustainability have been identiﬁed for all the internal factors, while issues of concern have been suggested for the external ones. One unpublished report cited 76 speciﬁc sustainability indicators for the internal factors and a more diffuse set of attributes for the external factors. All of these indicators and all of the attributes make sense. The problem is not that they are wrong, or that they are not useful. They are, if anything, incomplete. Rather, they suggest a complexity that can overwhelm understanding, even when, in speciﬁc situations, only a subset of these entities are relevant. There are two approaches to complexity. One of them, which has been explored thoroughly and incisively by Emory Roe (1998), views complexity as anything we do not understand, because there are apparently a large number of inter-
and a small set of critical processes create and maintain this self-organization. If sustainability means anything. In its expanded version. institutional. several analyses of institutions that . economists. economic. political. can lead to an understanding that is rigorously developed but can be communicated lucidly. if identiﬁed. relevant. 2001). Gunderson and Holling 2001) suggests that the complexity of living systems of people and nature emerges not from a random association of a large number of interacting factors rather from a smaller number of controlling processes. This theory is rooted in empirical reality and communicated with metaphor and example. A recent article in Conservation Ecology offered a review of this thesis from four different disciplinary and policy perspectives and a commentary on the reviews by the author (www. it provides a means of assessing information about the internal factors and external inﬂuences that interact to determine systemic sustainability. in Einstein’s words. This concept has recently been developed and expanded into a book-length thesis (Gunderson and Holling 2001). Be dynamic and prescriptive. These systems are self-organized. rigorously developed. These processes establish a persistent template upon which a host of other variables exercise their inﬂuence. An alternative view (Holling 2000. Surprise and structural change are inevitable in systems of people and nature.html). Diversity and the individuality of components. We are always left with best judgments.consecol. But these two views of complexity require alternative perspectives and competing models and hypotheses. and management systems. That level of understanding is built upon a founda- 391 tion of adequate integrative theory.org/reports. not certainties. and an autonomous process that uses the outcomes of those local interactions to select a subset of those components for enhancement are characteristics of complex adaptive systems [Levin 1999]). localized interactions among components. then your understanding is unnecessarily complex. not static and descriptive. resalliance.” The purpose of this paper is to summarize a theoretical framework and process for understanding complex systems. Its goal was to develop and test the elements of an integrative theory that had the degree of simplicity necessary for understanding but also the complexity required to develop policy for sustainability. Monitoring of the present and past is static unless it connects to policies and actions and to the evaluation of different futures. To be useful. and important. what is uncertain. If you require many more than a handful of causes. it has to do with the small set of critical self-organized variables and the transformations that can occur in them during the evolutionary process of societal development. The appropriate approach.org/Journal/vol4/iss2/index. Such “subsidiary” variables or factors can be interesting. The goal of each approach is to mobilize evidence that can distinguish among competing explanations so that multiple lines of evidence begin to deﬁne what is known.Understanding Complex Systems acting elements. The view presented here argues that there is a requisite level of simplicity behind the complexity that. The results of that project are summarized in the ﬁnal report to the MacArthur Foundation found at http://www. and what is unknown. It was intended to deepen our understanding of linked ecological/economic/ decision systems through the use of a set of interactive models. The heart of the work has now been ampliﬁed in Panarchy: Understanding Transformations in Human and Natural Systems (Gunderson and Holling. This book expands the theory and explores its implications for ecological. ● AN INTEGRATIVE THEORY Background The theory was developed under the auspices of the “Resilience Project”. each of which seem relevant from a number of fundamentally different operational and philosophical perspectives. social scientists. The project was initiated to search for an integrative theory and integrative examples of practice. a 5-year collaboration among an international group of ecologists. The ﬁrst requirement is to begin to integrate the essence of ecological. and mathematicians. but they exist at the whim of the critical controlling factors or variables. is to embrace the complexity and resulting uncertainty and analyze different subsets of interactions. according to Roe. and social science theory and to do so with the goal of being. “as simple as possible but no simpler. Embrace uncertainty and unpredictability. in which multiple outcomes typically are possible depending on accidents of history. then your understanding is too simple. (“Self-organization” is a term that characterizes the development of complex adaptive systems. It holds that if you cannot explain or describe the issue of concern using at least a handful of causes. such a framework and process must satisfy the following criteria: ● ● Be “as simple as possible but no simpler” than is required for understanding and communication.
Planning for Resilience: Scenarios. Introduction Chapter 1. and humans (for example. Dynamic Interaction of Societies and Ecosystems: Linking Theories from Ecology. Brock. and W. Discoveries for Sustainable Futures. A. S. C. and S. R. In Quest of a Theory of Adaptive Change. S. L.S. rivers.A. C. As long as the transfer from one level to the other is maintained. and Metaphors Chapter 7. M. Carpenter. M. L. restructuring.R. Brock link people and nature. or the variables changed. and Renewal. Resilient Rangelands — Adaptation in Complex Systems. Gunderson. Surprises and Sustainability Cycles of Renewal in the Everglades. S. Sustainability and Panarchies. Figure 1 shows an example for a forested landscape. Linking Theory to Practice Chapter 11. Westley. If we can understand these cycles and their scales. and G. S. Walker.G. F. W. grasslands. C. Scheffer.392 C. we would add. and Sociology. Surprises. B. as well as combined human–nature systems (for example. and D. and an extensive exploration of two prototypical systems.H. Walker and N.S. H. and Branch Points. Ludwig Chapter 8. C. Pritchard Jr. S. W.S. Back to the Future: Ecosystem Dynamics and Local Knowledge. Gunderson. lakes. and C. the savannas and grasslands of Australia and the Everglades of Florida. Summary and Synthesis Chapter 15. co-evolved systems of management) (Folke and others 1998). Brock. Brock. Gunderson Chapter 16. but not in the sense of a top-down sequence of authoritative control. Economy. K. Gunderson. C. and L.D. Resilience and Sustainability: The Economic Analysis of Non-Linear Dynamic Systems.H. agencies that control natural resource use) (Gunderson and others 1995) and social-ecological systems (for instance. Holling. L. Theories of Change Chapter 2. C. L. and L. S. Sanderson Part III. Carpenter. forests. Peterson Chapter 4. Holling. settlements. Holling. and G. Abel Chapter 12. Table of Contents for Panarchy: Understanding Transformations in Human and Natural Systems Part I. Brock. Yorque. Folke Chapter 6. Holling. semi-autonomous levels are formed from the interactions among a set of variables that share similar speeds (and. Perrings Part IV. The Devil in the Dynamics: Adaptive Management on the Front Lines. A. B. Holling and L. Table 1 summarizes the book’s contents. The Dynamics of Political Discourse in Seeking Sustainability. and Figure 3 shows a social system. Gallopin Part V. Panarchy is the hierarchical structure in which systems of nature (for example. Why Are Systems of People and Nature not just Ecological or Social Systems? F. W. Resilience and Adaptive Cycles. G. Gunderson Chapter 5. Gunderson.S. it seems possible to evaluate their contribution to sustainability and to identify the points at which a system is capable of accepting positive change and the points where it is vulnerable. R.A. Westley. Janssen Chapter 10. Berkes and C.A.E. Models. and cultures). Each level communicates a small set of information or quantity of material to the next higher (slower and coarser) level. Peterson Chapter 13. I will deal with each in turn and then show the consequence of combining them in a synthesis. F. W. “Panarchy” is the term we use to describe a concept that explains the evolving nature of complex adaptive systems. S. and M. Myths. Carpenter. A Future of Surprises. Folke. Hierarchies Simon (1974) was one of the ﬁrst to describe the adaptive signiﬁcance of hierarchical structures.A.S.D. the interactions within the levels themselves can be transformed. without the whole system losing its integ- . Carpenter. It then becomes possible to use those leverage points to foster resilience and sustainability within a system.H.H. H. structures of governance. Ludwig Part II. accumulation.R. Rather. Westley Chapter 14. C. C. Towards an Integrative Synthesis. L. Brock. C. and renewal. geometric/spatial attributes). He called them “hierarchies”. are interlinked in never-ending adaptive cycles of growth.H. W. Holling. Figure 2 shows a wetland system. R. Learning. These transformational cycles take place in nested sets at scales ranging from a leaf to the biosphere over periods from days to geologic epochs. Collapse. Holling Table 1. Gunderson Chapter 3. Holmgren Chapter 9. Holling. and D. and seas). The idea of panarchy combines the concept of space/time hierarchies with a concept of adaptive cycles. F. and from the scales of a family to a sociopolitical region over periods from years to centuries. Ma ¨ ler.
Time and space scales of levels of a hierarchy in the Everglades. In contrast to ecological hierarchies. Institutional hierarchy of rule sets. to societies. the other is to generate and test innovations by experiments occurring within a level. Westley and others 2001). this hierarchy is structured along dimensions of the number of people involved in rule sets and approximate turnover times (Gunderson and others 1995. Allen and Starr (1982) and O’Neill and others (1986) stimulated a major expansion of theoretical understanding by shifting attention from the smallscale view that characterized much of biological ecology to a multiscale and landscape view that recognized that biotic and abiotic processes could develop.Understanding Complex Systems 393 Figure 1. (Reprinted from Gunderson and Holling 2001 with permission of Island Press) rity. One is to conserve and stabilize conditions for the faster and smaller levels. since that potential determines . Levin (1999) has expanded that representation of cross-scale dynamics in a way that greatly deepens our understanding of the self-organized features of terrestrial ecosystems. (Reprinted from Gunderson and Holling 2001 with permission of Island Press) Figure 2. Time and space scales of the boreal forest (Holling 1986) and the atmosphere (Clark 1985) and their relationship to some of the processes that structure the forest. More recently. to cultures. As a consequence. Contagious meso-scale processes. to ecosystems. mediate the interaction between faster atmospheric processes and slower vegetation processes. a fundamental unit that contributes to the understanding of the dynamics of complex systems from cells. The Adaptive Cycle There are three properties that shape the adaptive cycle and the future state of a system: ● The inherent potential of a system that is available for change. It is a heuristic model. In particular. thereby greatly increasing the speed of evolution. this structure allows wide latitude for experimentation within levels. such as insect outbreaks and ﬁre. (Reprinted from Gunderson and Holling 2001 with permission of Island Press) Figure 3. mutually re-enforcing relationships over distinct ranges of scale. Ecologists were inspired by Simon’s seminal article to apply the term “hierarchy” to ecological systems and develop its signiﬁcance for a variety of ecological relationships and structures. dynamic function we call “an adaptive cycle” (Holling 1986). It is this latter. Simon’s key arguments are that each of the levels of a dynamic hierarchy serves two functions.
when corporations such as IBM. Human enterprises can exhibit similar behavior. the accumulating potential could as well derive from the skills. This property can be thought of. social. and adaptive capacity—are general ones. Short. As the progression to the K phase proceeds in an ecosystem. maturing ecosystem. In case examples of regional development and ecosystem management (Gunderson and others 1995). such as wind. or wealth. that is. controllability. includes nutrients. AT&T. closely spaced arrows indicate a slowly changing situation. and physical structure. biomass. Although this accumulated capital is sequestered for the growing. for example. Potential. networks of human relationships. The actual change is triggered by agents of disturbance. or General Motors accumulate rigidities to the point of crisis and then attempt to restructure (Hurst and Zimmerman 1994. A stylized representation of an adaptive cycle is shown in Figure 4 for two of these properties— potential and connectedness. The cycle reﬂects changes in two properties: the y axis (the potential that is inherent in the accumulated resources of biomass and nutrients) and the x axis (the degree of connectedness among controlling variable). such as their sensitivity or not to perturbation. This property can be thought of as the opposite of the vulnerability of the system. that is. connectedness and stability increase and capital is accumulated. During the slow sequence from exploitation to conservation. disease. ⍀. or r to K). They also represent a potential that was developed and used in one setting but could be available in transformed ones. and drought. It becomes an accident waiting to happen. a measure of its vulnerability to unexpected or unpredictable shocks. but it is expropriated and controlled by the speciﬁc biota and processes of the ecosystem in place. The potential for other use is high. in a stylized way. for example. determines how vulnerable the system is to unexpected disturbances and surprises that can exceed or break that control. These three properties—wealth. S. long arrows indicate a rapidly changing situation. as achieved by adaptive capacity. and people to crisis. with shorter periods that create opportunities for innovation (from release to reorganization. and mutual trust that are developed incrementally Figure 4. preventing other competitors from utilizing them. it also represents a gradual increase in the potential for other kinds of ecosystems and futures. The adaptive capacity. the degree of connectedness between internal controlling variables and processes. Holling .394 C. agencies. and cultural capital as well as unexpressed chance mutations and inventions. whether at the scale of the cell or the biosphere. ﬁre. the resilience of the system. determines the degree to which a system can control its own destiny. Resilience. That potential includes accumulated ecological. That is. the stage where the potential can leak away and where a ﬂip into a less productive and less organized system is most likely (Holling 1986). the individual or the culture. insect outbreak. Holling ● ● the range of future options possible. The arrows show the speed of the ﬂow in the cycle. as distinct from being caught by the whims of external variability. The trajectory alternates between long periods of slow accumulation and transformation of resources (from exploitation to conservation. as. or controllability. sets limits for what is possible—it determines the number of alternative options for the future. Ecosystem capital. The exit from the cycle indicated at the left of the ﬁgure suggests. the system’s connectedness increases. they are the properties that shape the responses of ecosystems. a measure that reﬂects the degree of ﬂexibility or rigidity of such controls. for example. (Reprinted from Gunderson and Holling 2001 with permission of Island Press) and integrated during the progression from r to K. as the “wealth” of a system. A stylized representation of the four ecosystem functions (r. K. The resources accumulated and sequestered in vegetation and soil are then suddenly released and the tight organization is lost. The internal controllability of a system. Connectedness. loosely. ␣) and the ﬂow of events among them. economic. Hurst 1995. or ⍀ to ␣). eventually becoming overconnected and increasingly rigid in its control. the accumulating nutrient and biomass resources become more and more tightly bound within existing vegetation. For an economic or social system.
The adaptive cycle therefore embraces two opposites: growth and stability on the one hand. is inherently unpredictable and highly uncertain. change and variety on the other. low connectivity among variables. resilience. emphasizing one property or another. is low and resilience is high (that is. public-interest attacks through the legal system. to the adaptive cycle. The appearance of a ﬁgure 8 in the path of the adaptive cycle. The result is the condition needed for creative experimentation. permits novel reassortments of elements that were previously tightly connected to others in isolated sets of interactions. resource accumulation. At this stage. It is a time of both crisis and opportunity. inventions. from r to K. when connectedness. is added to the twodimensional box of Figure 4 to show how resilience expands and contracts throughout the cycle. The proximate agents of disturbance in these cases can be stakeholder revolts. There is a wide stability region. the previously accumulated mutations. during the ␣ phase). external invaders. many will fail. This orientation of the ﬁgure shows that as the phases of the adaptive cycle proceed. The conditions that occasionally foster novelty and experiment occur during periods in the back loop of the cycle. Resilience is another dimension of the adaptive cycle. The ␣ phase is the stage that is least examined and the least known. It expands as the cycle shifts rapidly into a back loop to reorganize accumulated resources for a new initiation of the cycle. sustainability vs creative change. Because of those features. Figure 5 adds the third dimension. but in sequence. Schumpeter (1950) appropriately called this phase “creative destruction. ecological resilience is high. But connectedness is low and internal regulation is weak. This recognition of resilience varying within a cycle adds an element that can reconcile the delicious para- 395 Figure 5. some of which nucleate new opportunity. The ﬁrst maximizes production and accumulation. becomes progressively more predictable as it develops. The phase from ⍀ to ␣ is a period of rapid reorganization during which novel recombinations can unexpectedly seed experiments that lead to innovations in the next cycle. the second maximizes invention and reassortment. the “front loop” of the trajectory. Resilience shrinks as the cycle moves towards K. or more extreme societal revolts.Understanding Complex Systems and others 2001). there are four key features that characterize an adaptive cycle. with weak regulation around equilibria. it is a fertile environment for experiments. where the system becomes more brittle. as is potential. The appearance of a ﬁgure 8 in Figure 4 is the consequence of viewing a three-dimensional object in a two-dimensional plane. as in Figure 4. (Reprinted from Gunderson and Holling 2001 with permission of Island Press) doxes of conservative nature vs creative nature. The low connectedness. the survivors will accumulate the fruits of change. or controllability. We can view that three-dimensional object from different perspectives. a system’s ecological resilience expands and contracts. from ⍀ to ␣. is the consequence of the projection of a three-dimensional object onto a two-dimensional plane. It is the beginning of a process of reorganization that provides the potential for subsequent growth. A. for the appearance and initial establishment of entities that would otherwise be outcompeted. As in good experiments.” Initially. It is as if two separate objectives are functioning. Figure 5 rotates the object to expose the resilience axis. with its properties of growth and accumulation on the one hand and of . And the success in achieving one inexorably sets the stage for its opposite. or weak control. At that stage. In contrast. the “back loop” of the adaptive cycle. The economist J. The high resilience allows tests of those novel combinations because the systemwide costs of failure are low. but in the process. In summary. and capital can become reassorted into novel combinations. resilience. The Soviet Union is a societal example of accumulated rigidities that precipitate a sudden collapse. and a substantial amount of potential available for future options. and storage. A third dimension. The two objectives cannot be maximized simultaneously but only occur sequentially.
Some fail. “warm-blooded” organisms with endothermic control of temperature. S. A break can trigger the release of accumulated potential in what the economist Schumpeter called “creative destruction” (1950). we decided to look for another term that would capture the adaptive and evolutionary nature of adaptive cycles that are nested one within each other across space and time scales. The system becomes an accident waiting to happen. productive temperate forests and grasslands. “panarchy”. in a traditional culture. Those innovations are then tested. insect outbreak. The functioning of those cycles and the communication between them determines the sustainability of a system. Holling the ␣ and r phases. and Per Bak’s (1996) sand pile experiments demonstrating “organized criticality” from K to ⍀). Not All Adaptive Cycles Are the Same Efforts to ﬁnd exceptions that might invalidate the preceding representation have identiﬁed different classes of systems that represent distinct variants of. between the predictable and the unpredictable. ● 3. test its results. This is the phase of reorganization represented in ␣ (Figure 4) where low connectedness allows unexpected combinations of previously isolated or constrained innovations that can nucleate new opportunity. wealth as expressed in ecosystem structure. competitors. Hence. to a “wise person” (Westley and others 2001.396 C. some traditional cultures. human relationships. Potential (that is. All of them are measurable in speciﬁc situations: 1. productivity. Examples: exploited arid rangelands. or departures from. Innovation occurs in pulses or surges of innovation when uncertainty is great. As potential increases. as shown in Figures 4 and 5. Ecosystems and communities of plants and animals that are strongly inﬂuenced by uncontrollable or unpredictable episodic external inputs and have little internal regulation and highly adaptive responses to opportunity. This is the phase from r to K in Figure 4. System variables remain near an equilibrium and the individual is freed to exploit a wider range of opportunities within a community or ecosystem. The trajectory then moves abruptly into a back loop from K to ⍀. ● 4. that cycle. top-down nature of its common meaning. The adaptive cycle. and controls are weak. novelty and renewal on the other. mutations. dominated by trophic dynamics (Walker and Abel 2001). but others survive and adapt in a succeeding phase of growth from r to K. Human systems with foresight and active adaptive methods that stabilize variability and exploit opportunity. and inventions) increases incrementally in conjunction with increased efﬁciency but also in conjunction with increased rigidity. Biological entities with strong and effective homeostatic internal regulation of external variability. potential is high. and allow adaptive evolution. Physical systems where the lack of invention and mutation limits the potential for evolutionary change. so that novel recombinations can form. Our goal was to rationalize the interplay between change and persistence. slow changes gradually expose an increasing vulnerability (decreased resilience) to such threats as ﬁre. Ecosystems and human organizations with predictable but variable inputs and some signiﬁcant internal regulation of external variability over certain scale ranges. Examples: cells and ionic regulation. pelagic biotic communities. This is an example of local control that can release external opportunity and variability at a different scale—a transfer of the full adaptive cycle to the larger arena of a higher level in the hierarchy. or opposition groups. Examples: entrepreneurial businesses. Berkes and Folke 2001). large bureaucracies. For example. We therefore melded the image of the Greek god Pan as the epitoma of unpredictable change with the notion of hierarchies across scales to invent a new term that could represent structures that sustain experiment. These systems tend to remain largely in the lower left quadrant of the cycle. These systems represent the full cycle of boom-and-bust dynamics shown in Figure 4 (Holling and Gunderson 2001). A panarchy is a representation of a hierarchy as a nested set of adaptive cycles. Examples of these exceptions include: ● THE PANARCHY: A SYNTHESIS Because the word “hierarchy” is so burdened by the rigid. The high variability of the adaptive cycle can be transferred from the society to an individual entrepreneur or. oscillating in ● . ● 2. futures markets and resource scarcity. Examples: tectonic plate dynamics. That synthesis will be explored in this section.
A stylized panarchy. and human systems can therefore be viewed as a nested set of four-phase adaptive cycles. (Reprinted from Gunderson and Holling 2001 with permission of Island Press) periodically within each hierarchical level. and human systems is the way that inventions are accumulated and transferred over time. exotic genes that are transferred occasionally between species. reducing the risk to the integrity of the whole structure. constraining the lower levels and immune to the buzz of noise from small and faster processes. The adaptive cycle opens transient windows of opportunity so that novel assortments can be generated. Thus. ecological. the novel entrants are exotic. and innovative people. They are labeled as “revolt” and “remember” in Figure 7. the dynamic and adaptive nature of such nested structures has tended to be lost. the structural. top-down aspect of hierarchies has tended to dominate theory and application. nested set of adaptive cycles that indicates the dynamic nature of structures depicted in the previous plots. for some bacteria. death.Understanding Complex Systems transforms hierarchies from ﬁxed static structures to dynamic. Similarly. potentially invasive species or species “in the wings” waiting for more appropriate conditions. But more on that later. is the importance of the adaptive cycle and. which maintain adaptive opportunity. reinforced by the standard dictionary deﬁnition of hierarchy as a system of vertical authority and control. The revolt and remember connections become important at times of change in the adaptive cycles. these novel entrants are inventions. but transient. . For economic systems. But two of these connections are particularly signiﬁcant to our search for the meaning of sustainability. each level of a system’s structure and processes can be reorganized. The second feature is the connections between levels. while simple interactions across levels maintain integrity. ecological. creative ideas. in particular. where three levels of a panarchy are represented. A panarchy is a crossscale. growth and maturation. Within these cycles. The ﬁrst. However. This process can occur 397 Figure 6. There are two features that distinguish the panarchical representation from traditional hierarchical ones. those novel entrants are mutated genes or. adaptive entities whose levels are sensitive to small disturbances at the transition from growth to collapse (the ⍀ phase) and the transition from reorganization to rapid growth (the ␣ phase). This adaptive cycle captures in a heuristic fashion the engine that periodically generates the variability and novelty upon which experimentation depends. and renewal. in a way that partially isolates the resulting experiments. For ecosystems. At other times. As a consequence of the periodic. But this representation has no way of accounting for the dynamics of each level as symbolized in the four-phase cycle of birth. There are potentially multiple connections between phases at one level and phases at another level. The organization and functions that form biological. the processes are stable and robust. It is certainly true that slower and larger levels set the conditions within which faster and smaller ones function. cultures of different people establish norms that guide the actions of human individuals. a forest stand moderates the climate within the stand to narrow the range of temperatures experienced by its individuals constituents. The adaptive cycle explicitly initiates a slow period of growth during which mutations. One major difference among biological. the ␣ phase as the engine of variety and the generator of new experiments within each level. there are opportunities for periodic reshufﬂing within levels. and inventions can accumulate. invasions. For organisms. phases of creative destruction (⍀ stage) and renewal (␣ stage). It is at the two-phase transitions between gradual and rapid change and vice versa that the large and slow entities become sensitive to change from the small and fast ones. This reshufﬂing in the back loop of the cycle allows the possibility of new system conﬁgurations and opportunities utilizing the exotic and entirely novel entrants that had accumulated in earlier phases. followed by a briefer period when they undergo rearrangements. The various levels of the panarchy can be seen as a nested set of adaptive cycles (Figure 6). Therefore. as discussed earlier.
collective choice rules. complex ecological systems. The “revolt” arrow in Figure 7 suggests this effect. particularly if those levels have also accumulated vulnerabilities and rigidities. for knowledge systems. and then to a whole stand of trees. then to a patch in the forest. the options for renewal include the seed bank. evolved structure. A societal version occurs when local activists succeed in their efforts to transform regional organizations and institutions. which comprise biotic legacies (Franklin and MacMahon 2000) that have accumulated in the course of the forest’s growth. and surviving species. Similarly. The other is the “remember” connection which facilitates renewal by drawing on the potential that has been accumulated and stored in a larger. and governance (Barro 1997). physical structures. they might be individual preferences. they might be markets. which can cause a critical change in one cycle to cascade up to a vulnerable stage in a larger and slower one. (Reprinted from Gunderson and Holling 2001 with permission of Island Press) When a level in the panarchy enters its ⍀ phase of creative destruction. Each step in that cascade moves the transformation to a larger and slower level. Such an event is most likely if the slower level is at its K phase. Holling and others 2001). It is as if this connection draws on the accumulated wisdom and experiences of maturity. At the same time. norms. hierarchical entities. His work resonates with features reminiscent of panarchy theory. The panarchy is a representation of the ways in which a healthy social-ecological system can invent and experiment. Once triggered. they might be local knowledge. The arrow labeled “remember” in Figure 7 indicates a second type of cross-scale interaction that is important at times of change and renewal. for developing nations. Panarchical connections. and myths (Westley 1995). the opportunities for. a coral reef hit by a storm draws on its own legacies and the memory of the seascape of which it is a part (Nystro ¨ m and Folke 2001). and thought-provoking experiments in the form and content of a mature.398 C. slower levels. in his marvelous meditation on buildings (1994). management practice. for example. Levin’s Fragile Dominion (1999) is an accessible and effective disquisition on self-organization as it characterizes adaptive. Holling crown of a tree. An ecological version of this situation occurs when conditions in a forest allow a local ignition to create a small ground ﬁre that spreads ﬁrst to the . S. and patches. tree crowns. and constitutional rules (Ostrom 1992). hence. and social institutions (Whitaker 1987). those three speeds might be operational rules. the collapse can cascade to the next larger and slower level by triggering a crisis. markets. the renewal of the cycle are strongly inﬂuenced by the K phase of the next slower and larger level. Such a change occurred in New Brunswick.” In a similar vein. After a forest ﬁre. Brand (1999) extends these ideas and generalizes the concept of fast and slow processes to society as a whole. One is the “revolt” connection. because the latter have become broadly vulnerable. slower cycle. one where fast and small events overwhelm slow and large ones. In The Clock of the Long Now. beneﬁting from inventions that create opportunity while it is kept safe from those that destabilize the system because of their nature or excessive exuberance. the word “remember. or constraints against. for societies. Buildings of enduring character are a reﬂection of seasoned maturity—the culmination of a series of idiosyncratic. because at this point the resilience is low and the level is particularly vulnerable. described them as adaptive. the effect can cascade to still higher. they might be allocation mechanisms. Once a catastrophe is triggered at one level. protected from above by Figure 7. Canada when a few small groups opposed to spraying insecticide over the forest were able to transform this region’s vulnerable forest management policies and practices (Baskerville 1995). For institutions. infrastructure. Similarily. Three selected levels of a panarchy are illustrated to show the two connections that are critical in creating and sustaining adaptive capability. for economies. wise. An example of the sequence from small and fast through larger and slower and thence to largest and slowest for a boreal forest ecosystem includes needles. Each level is allowed to operate at its own pace. the processes and resources that have accumulated at a larger level slow the leakage of nutrients that have been mobilized and released into the soil. and world view (Gadgil and others 1993. Stewart Brand. for its reorganization and renewal. Berkes 1999.
If enough potential accumulates at one level. 399 Collapsing Panarchies Stochastic events external to a cycle can trigger spasmodic collapses. is likely to have been caused by the impact of an asteroid (Alvarez and others 1980). The phrase that combines the two. This process can serve to clarify the meaning of “sustainable development”. Similarly. The cataclysmic loss of biological diversity that occurred some 65 million years ago. Jablonski 1995). The ﬁrst is an overall increase in the hierarchical differentiation and complexity of societies. Development is the process of creating. The whole panarchy is therefore both creative and conserving. he explicitly posits a cascading. The interactions between cycles in a panarchy combine learning with continuity. but they have invented ways to diffuse large episodes of creative destruction by creating smaller cycles of renewal and . while at the same time accumulating potential that can be released periodically if the decks are cleared of constraining inﬂuences by large. for example. because they allow stresses and rigidities to accumulate. or they are so complex and highly contested that no action can be agreed upon. both of these models of societal change propose that slow dynamics inform social organization. Since recovery from these events is so delayed. adaptive cycles at different levels in a panarchy become aligned at the same phase of vulnerability. In other words. and maintaining opportunity. which may also be associated with massive volcanic eruptions that occurred around the same time. and species dominated the new assemblages after recovery. Modern democratic societies are clearly vulnerable to the same process. catastrophic disruptions followed by long periods of reinvention and development. slower and larger level. Robert Adams’s magniﬁcent reconstruction of Mesopotamian societies (1966. 1978) and a later review of other archaeological sequences at regional or larger scales (R. In effect. levels in the panarchy are added over time. followed by slow recovery and the restoration of lost potential. orders. interspersed by much longer periods of relative stability. For example. it is likely that mass extinction events eliminate not only species but also ecological niches. therefore refers to the goal of fostering adaptive capabilities while simultaneously creating opportunities. there are long periods of ruinous reversal. He argues that currency mismanagement and the outbreak of diseases aggravated the destabilizing effects of an inﬂation that in turn was driven by population growth. For their continued existence. Goldstone (1991) examined the wave of revolutions that occurred in Eurasia after a period of calm in the 17th century. testing. The second trend is deﬁned by the occurrence of rapid discontinuous shifts. Because they destroy most species. novel inventions and new ways of living emerged. That is. The conservative nature of established panarchies certainly slows change. In contrast to the sudden collapses of biological panarchies. exploded in a diversiﬁcation that created new opportunity. test. The recovery of biodiversity from such cataclysmic events requires the reconstruction of these niches. unraveled the web of interactions within and between panarchical levels over scales from biomes to species. M. In The Great Wave. Adams unpublished) led him to identify two trends in human society since the Pleistocene. it can pass a threshold and establish another. a long view of human history reveals not regular change but spasmodic. Notably. Sustainability is the capacity to create. inconspicuous before that time. the mammals. According to Fischer. mass extinction events concomitantly eliminate many ecological niches. different families. A number of scholars have focused on the study of such societal dynamics in more recent history. It is therefore not an oxymoron but a term that describes a logical partnership. David Fischer (1996) presents a somewhat similar model of political breakdown that focuses less on social stratiﬁcation and revolutionary dynamics than on empirical price data and inﬂation. as new species evolve to ﬁll them. panarchical collapse. and triggering destructive cascades down the successive levels of a panarchy. at least three waves of social unrest swept Eurasia. Organizations and institutions often fail to cope with these slow changes either because the changes are invisible to them. Thus. ﬁrst in the 14th century and later in the 17th and late 18th centuries. larger levels but invigorated from below by faster. Periods of success carry the seeds of subsequent downfall. “sustainable development”. smaller cycles of innovation. particularly if they encounter vulnerabilities within an adaptive cycle. destroying about 70% of Earth’s species. extreme events. Extremely large events can overwhelm the sustaining properties of panarchies. He hypothesized that political breakdown occurs when there are simultaneous crises at several different organizational levels in society. and maintain adaptive capability. destroying levels.Understanding Complex Systems slower. The dinosaurs became extinct during the collapse that occurred 65 million years ago. species depend on an environment that is created by life. That event.
and resilient system. A poverty trap and a rigidity trap are illustrated as departures from an adaptive cycle. We see signs of such sustained but maladaptive conditions in great “hierocracies. thus creating a poverty trap. and low resilience. and economic disincentives maintain sheep production. through human overuse and misuse. preserving a maladaptive system. Could there be systems with other combinations of those three attributes in which variability is sharply constrained and opportunity is limited? We suggest two such possibilities in Figure 8. and high resilience to their opposites. tightly regulated. connectedness. in which any novelty is either smothered or its inventor ejected. an impoverished state can result. so that its cultural cohesion and adaptive abilities are lost. Thereafter. it would be useful to know what critical attributes need to be reinvented and reestablished from the residual memory stored in slowly fading traditions and myths to recreate a new. and low resilience. In such a situation. (Reprinted from Gunderson and Holling 2001 with permission of Island Press) change through periodic political elections. When recovery is possible. Holling or due to an external force. It would represent a rigidity trap. with low connectedness. barely able to persist as a group. But all such systems are Figure 8. The same persistent collapse might also occur in a society traumatized by social disruption or conﬂict. thus creating a poverty trap. It would have a kind of perverse resilience. collapsing levels as it goes. So long as there is a literate and attentive citizenry. beginning with sparse vegetation. an impoverished state can result. Maladaptive systems. Some such societies might continue to exist in this degraded state of bare subsistence. Poverty Traps and Rigidity Traps Collapsing panarchies begin to decline within speciﬁc adaptive cycles that have become maladaptive. the individual members of the society would be able to depend only on themselves and perhaps their immediate family members. even beyond the point where it is adaptive and creative. eroding state. The high potential would be measured in accumulated wealth or abundant natural capital. Others might simply collapse into anarchy.400 C. I described the path of an adaptive cycle as oscillating between conditions of low connectedness. This condition can then propagate downward through levels of the panarchy. Berkes (1999) and Folke and others (1998) tried to determine how far such erosion must progress before recovery becomes impossible. subsequent drought precipitates further erosion. where potential is high. such as large bureaucracies (Holling and others 2001). It is suggestive of the maladaptive conditions present in hierocracies. a wealthy. low potential. The high resilience would mean that the system had a great ability to resist external disturbances and persist. S. Various designs in business. low potential. A system with high potential. ﬂips into an irreversible. the painful lessons learned from the episodic collapses of whole societal panarchies can be transferred to faster learning at smaller scales. serve the same purpose. low potential. Figure 8 also suggests that it is possible to have a sustainable but maladaptive system. but unable to accumulate enough potential to form the larger structures and sustaining properties of a complete panarchy. The high connectedness would be created by efﬁcient methods of social control. An ecological example is the productive savanna that. connectedness great and—in contrast to the phase where those conditions exist in an adaptive cycle—resilience is high. that is. Earlier. Other examples occur in regions of the developing world that have abundant natural resources but are subject to the rigid control of corrupt political regimes. from the creation of “skunk works” to the introduction of total quality management. If an adaptive cycle collapses because the potential and diversity have been eradicated through misuse . sustaining panarchy. and resilience is represented by the rigidity trap. with low connectedness. If an adaptive cycle collapses because the potential and diversity have been eradicated due to misuse or an external force. Imagine a situation of great wealth and control.” such as societies that operate under rigid and apparently immutable caste systems.
Foresight and intentionality can therefore precipitate ruinous reversals if they are not connected to a market with essential liberal and equitable properties. But technology ampliﬁes the actions of humans so that they affect an astonishing range of scales from the submicroscopic to global and— however modestly at the moment— even extend beyond Earth itself. including television. economic setting? Or. and technology. at least three speeds of variables. These minimal requirements for the system are the same ones that characterize the ecosystem panarchy—that is. as described by Carpenter and others (1999. multistable behavior. and the Internet. As they are tested. Organisms transfer. all can do. These behaviors play a role in transmitting future scarcities into current prices. and store experience in a changing world genetically. Those three features are foresight. Ecosystems transfer. pointing out that they ignore the forward-looking behaviors of people. and store experience by forming self-organized patterns that repeat themselves. Predictions of looming economic crises and collapses caused by resource scarcity. are an important issue in debates about sustainability. in management agencies. These models suggest that even when knowledge is total. such as cultural myths. But what one market participant can do. Human foresight and intentionality can dramatically reduce or even eliminate the boom and bust character of some cycles. the exercise of foresight and intentionality is often brilliantly directed to protect the positions of individuals rather than to further larger societal goals. Communication. These patterns are formed and reﬁned by a set of interacting variables that function over speciﬁc scale ranges and form a mutually reinforcing core of relationships. Solow (1973) provided a withering critique of such doomsday scenarios. Many sources of information. In fact. but humans uniquely add the ability to communicate ideas and experience. As human technology has evolved over the last hundred thousand years. changing the rules and context of the pan- . separation among those speeds. thereby inducing conservation behaviors in the real economic world. a minimally complex ecosystem model. thus precipitating major crises that initiate restructuring in a larger social. not a free market for the many (Pritchard and Sanderson 2001). an ecosystem is developed out of a few such sets that establish a reproducing. and politics at global scales. Finally. movies. beliefs. ruinous reversals in the development of societies? These collapses seem to be more extreme and require much longer recovery than the internally generated cycles of ecosystem panarchies. 401 What Distinguishes Human Systems? Human systems exhibit at least three features that are unique—features that change the character and location of variability within the panarchy and that can dramatically enhance the potential of the panarchies themselves. legal constitutions. 2001). how can we explain the common ten- dency for large organizations to develop rigidities. test. as was the case with the totalitarian bureaucracy of the now defunct Soviet Union (Levin and others 1998). That analysis is the source of our conclusion that ecosystems have a minimal complexity we call the “Rule of Hand” whose features make linear policies more likely to produce temporary solutions and a greater number of escalating problems. ecological. the many examples of long-term. it has progressively accelerated. These limits are illustrated in speciﬁc examples of models that combine ecosystem simulations with economic optimization and decision processes. this process transmits information to the market as a whole. the same self-organized patterns are strongly developed. thus. Certainly. They provide very large incentives for some people to forecast the coming scarcity better than the rest of the market and to take a position to proﬁt from it. test. together with stochastic events. The economist R. these ideas can become incorporated into slower parts of the panarchy. discontinuous template to provide niches for species diversiﬁcation and the adaptation of individual organisms. can thwart the forward-looking economic and decision-making capacity to eliminate booms and busts. Technology. The market in these cases is a market for political power of the few.Understanding Complex Systems likely to have the seeds of their own destruction built in. But there limits to this process. for example. The foresight that maintains creativity and change when connected to an appropriate economic market can lead to rigid organizations that are maintained even when that particular market no longer exists. are global in their connectedness and inﬂuence. communication. In human systems. The scale of the inﬂuence exerted by every animal other than humans is highly restricted. These media are contributing to a transformation of culture. Foresight and intentionality. This forward-looking process functions through futures markets and the strategic purchase and holding of commodities. Only an actively adaptive approach can minimize the consequences. and laws. and nonlinear.
protected from above by slower. However. The use of ﬁre by early humans made them part of the ecological structuring process. Each level is allowed to operate at its own pace. although the spatial scale has expanded from a maximum of a few kilometers by foot to potentially a few hundred kilometers by commuter aircraft. a sequence of adaptive cycles can be described. Progressively. S. larger levels but invigorated from below by faster. Westley (2001) presented an equally incisive analysis of a sequence of decisions and actions taken in speciﬁc examples of problem solving by a resource manager. Some developments emerge within adaptive cycles during the back loop of the cycle. for example. It is often useful to begin the analysis of a speciﬁc problem with a historical reconstruction of the events that have occurred. the motive for an assessment is a crisis or transformation that has already occurred or is anticipated. management agencies. In essence.402 C. because many constraints have been removed. the conditions of the back loop of the adaptive cycle (Figure 4) dominate. In many instances. it is these times of greatest threat that offer the greatest opportunity. automobile. Knowing where you are helps you to deﬁne what action needs to be taken. Figure 9 provides an example of the kind of analysis that is possible. and politics. They are also qualitatively different from the potentially more extreme changes and frozen accidents that can occur during the more revolutionary shift from creative destruction (⍀) to renewal (␣). One of the principal aims is to deﬁne where in their respective adaptive cycles each of the subsystems is now. habitation. the back-loop of the cycles is the phase where resilience and opportunity is maintained or created. together with the domestication of canines for use as hunting companions. the horse. reorganization. and revolt. The specialized tools. train. remembrance. the economy. smaller . for example. The four R’s. focusing on the surprises and crises that have arisen as a result of both external inﬂuences and internal instabilities. The theory is sufﬁciently new that its practical application to regional questions or the analysis of speciﬁc problems has just begun. extreme events are rare. created opportunities over wide scales. In the same book. users. when recombinations and external archies in the process. The whole panarchy is therefore both creative and conserving. then. via “release” and “reorganization” (Figures 4 and 5). The interactions between cycles in a panarchy combines learning with continuity. The slope of the decision panarchy for humans. Panarchy theory focuses on the critical features that affect or trigger reorganization and transformation in a system. and aircraft have extended the ambit for human choices from local to regional and thence to planetary scales. In an insightful analysis of local communities as seen from this perspective. Assessing Sustainability The current state of our understanding of panarchies is summarized in Table 2. They provide new categories that can be used to organize the more speciﬁc indicators and attributes discussed in documents aimed at ﬁnding ways to evaluate sustainability and development. These transformations cascade and transform the whole panarchy along with its constituent adaptive cycles. and weapons of hunter-gatherers. Such transformations across scales are qualitatively different from the incremental changes that occur during the growth phase of the adaptive cycle. In temperate North America and Australia. for the so-called natural system. or even decreased. Because a unique combination of separate developments has to conspire to occur simultaneously. Berkes and Folke (2001) showed that local societies often develop reserves that are necessary during back-loop restructuring. but the time allotted for each of these choices has changed little. now angles sharply upward. Actions that would be appropriate at one phase of the cycle might not be appropriate at other phases. Holling cycles of innovation. represent the critical processes that manage the balance and tension between change and sustainability. In these situations. Trips between home and work. We think it is necessary to consider three scale ranges for each system. for example. First. These four phases or processes make up the four R’s of sustainability and development: release. the connections between levels of the panarchy are where persistence (via “remembrance”) and evolvability (via “revolt”) (Figure 7) are maintained. beneﬁting from inventions that create opportunity while it is kept safe from those that destabilize the system due to their nature or excessive exuberance. they became capable of transforming mosaics of grasslands and woods into extensive regions of contiguous grasslands or forests (Flannery 1994). although the particular scales might be different for different subsystems. To summarize: The panarchy describes how a healthy socioecological system can invent and experiment. Second. if plotted in the same space as in Figures 1–3. have always been largely limited to less than an hour or so. intersecting and dominating other panarchies of nature.
The examples suggest that as much complexity exists in the social dimensions as in the ecological ones and that managers must juggle shifting objectives. nonlinear causation. Figure 4). Attributes of biological and human entities form clumped patterns that reﬂect panarchical organization. Management must take surprise and unpredictability into consideration. Some systems are maladaptive and trigger poverty and rigidity traps. Linked ecological. Self-organization of ecological systems establishes the arena for evolutionary change. Is adaptive management an answer? Abrupt shifts among a multiplicity of very different stable domains are plausible in regional ecosystems. spatial contagion and biotic legacies generate self-organized patterns over scales in space and time. three qualitatively different speeds. These include physical systems (because of the absence of mutations of elements). The world is lumpy. Panarchies identify three types of change. These can arise from technical considerations. The minimal complexity needed to understand a panarchy and its adaptive cycles requires at least three to ﬁve key interacting components. some economic systems. and human systems with foresight and adaptive methods to stabilize variability. Self-organization shapes long-term change. ecosystems strongly inﬂuenced by external pulses.” Emergent behavior emerges from integrated systems. such as models or analytic frameworks. Functional diversity builds resilience. Economies. For linked ecological/social/economic systems. and stochasticity cause active adaptive management to outperform optimization approaches that seek stable targets. Figure 4). (b) lurching. Tractability comes from a “Rule of Hand. each of which can generate a different kind of learning: (a) incremental (r to K. An adaptive cycle that aggregates resources and that periodically restructures to create opportunities for innovation is a fundamental unit for understanding complex systems. Integrated systems exhibit emergent behavior if they have strong connectivity between the human and ecological components and if they have key characteristics of nonlinearity and complexity as suggested in the “Rule of Hand. and (c) transforming. Reprinted from Gunderson and Holling 2001 with permission of Island Press .” Managing complex systems requires confronting multiple uncertainties. Brief Explanation 403 The adaptive cycle is a fundamental unit of dynamic change. Sustainability requires both change and persistence. economic. slow variables. create diversity. from cells to ecosystems to societies to cultures. Not all adaptive cycles are the same and some are maladaptive. (⍀ to ␣. Variants to the adaptive cycle are present in different systems. and some political systems. multistable behaviors. Self-organization of human institutional patterns establishes the arena for future sustainable opportunity.Understanding Complex Systems Table 2. Functional groups across size classes of organisms maintain ecosystem resilience. Vulnerability and resilience change with the slow variables. and Institutions Statement Multistable states are common in many systems. There are three types of learning. Summary Findings from the Assessment of Resilience in Ecosystems. and social systems can behave differently from their parts. and contribute to resilience and sustainability. We propose that sustainability is maintained by relationships that can be interpreted as a nested set of adaptive cycles arranged as a dynamic hierarchy in space and time—the panarchy.
In addition to those just mentioned above. Separate adaptive cycles are used to depict phases of issues as interpreted in four systems—political. Allen TFH. Marco Janssen. which provided the crucible for these ideas. Finally. But all of the authors who contributed to the book were equally important to the development of these ideas. Adams RM. 1982. and adapt. Stimulate innovation and communicate the results in a variety of fail-safe experiments designed to probe possible directions in a way that is low in costs in terms of human careers and organizational budgets. and people at different levels of administration and governance. We are now in an era of transformation. and examples. Charles Perrings. Marten Scheffer. models. The evolution of urban society: early Mesopotamia and Prehispanic Mexico. economies. such as perverse subsidies. I thank the MacArthur Foundation for the support of a grant and Dan Martin of the MacArthur Foundation for his sustained advice and help. organizational. Identify and reduce destructive constraints and inhibitions on change. particularly the three chapters I wrote with my colleagues Buz Brock. S. and each becomes poised as an accident waiting to happen in a shift from ⍀ to ␣. Gilberto Gallopin. businesses. producing a cascade of novel selforganized patterns across a panarchy and creating fundamental new opportunity. Under conditions of crisis in a region. Extraterrestrial cause for the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction. But if these recombinations and inventions accumulate independently in a number of adjacent levels. They comprised an international group of ecologists. Figure 9. Rusty Pritchard. engaging them in the process of change. Hierarchy: perspectives for ecological complexity. (Reprinted from Gunderson and Holling 2001 with permission of Island Press) A principal conclusion from the Resilience Project is that the era of ecosystem management via incremental increases in efﬁciency is over. we became the best of friends and collaborators. I thank these marvelous friends and collaborators for their contributions. Michel HV. Over the 5 years of the project. That is. Alvarez W. and their imagination. they served as the coorganizers of the Resilience Project. and Garry Peterson. (2001).404 C. Steve Carpenter. Lance Gunderson. and nature to deal with change. innovate. and individual. and Ralf Yorque. Managers’ actions and solutions must account for these dynamics of these systems (Westley 2001). 1980. economists. Holling ● ● Encourage new foundations for renewal that build and sustain the capacity of people. Windows open that can then allow those independent inventions and adaptations to interact. Steve Sanderson. 1966. those innovations are contained and do not propagate to other levels. Alvarez LW. Starr TB. Asaro F. Chicago: Aldine. social scientists. inﬂuences can generate unexpected new seeds of opportunity that can nucleate and modify the subsequent phase of growth. Karl-Go ¨ ran Ma ¨ler. There is an “alignment of the stars. a time will come when the phases of several neighboring cycles become coincident. they include Nick Abel. Milena Holmgren. Pille Bunnell. stability and resilience in Mesopotamian society. Encourage programs to expand an understanding of change and communicate it to citizens. Protect and preserve the accumulated experience on which change will be based. 1978. the elements of a prescription for facilitating constructive change are as follows: ● ● ● REFERENCES Adams RM. their inspiration. Frances Westley. Along with Carl Folke and Brian Walker. agriculture and settlement. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This paper draws extensively on Gunderson and Holling. in which ecosystem management must build and maintain ecological resilience as well as the social ﬂexibility needed to cope. and mathematicians whose depth of knowledge in their respective areas helped to produce a very real synthesis. Science 208: 1095–108. . true revolutionary transformations are rare. whether in systems of people or systems in nature. Strategies of maximization. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.” Such a coincidence in phases of vulnerability at multiple scales is quite rare. Don Ludwig. interorganizational. Fikret Berkes. So long as connections are maintained with other levels. Proc Am Philos Soc 122:329 –35.
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